With what money, and how?
“I am a sole proprietor . 25% of income will cripple my business… Also it is not stated how ownership is acquired, must it be given away, is it purchased and if so with what money? The whole structure makes no sense and government needs to carefully rethink this whole idea otherwise a few years down the line it will be an utter disaster. Take Zimbabwe as an example, it used to be the breadbasket of Africa, and now….”
This response is just one from 115 enterprises that provided feedback in a survey conducted by the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF) among its members. It reflects the general mood of the private sector on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework Bill.
The CIF polled its members on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework Policy, as well as the NEEEF Bill. Within a week, 115 enterprises had responded to the survey. Respondents inter alia, raised concern about the definition of “previously disadvantaged”; requested more clarity about which businesses would be affected; questioned if indeed NEEEF in its current format could achieve it purpose and objective. Respondents further questioned the legality of NEEEF in its current format.
Bärbel Kirchner, consulting General Manager at the CIF said in a statement released on Thursday morning: “The general consensus is that empowerment initiatives should not lead to distinctions based on race, which many respondents considered as unconstitutional and that it would negatively impact race relations in Namibia. Instead, poor Namibians, regardless of racial origins, should benefit through increased focus and monitoring of already existing empowerment efforts. Respondents were adamant that wealthy Namibians, irrespective of race, should not become beneficiaries of any prospective additional empowerment efforts due to the proposed NEEEF Policy or NEEEF Bill.
“Respondents to the survey are of the opinion that the current level of education and skill in Namibia is still too low to enforce the proposed 25% ownership of disadvantaged Namibians, or to be able to enforce 50% board or management control by disadvantaged Namibians. Therefore, concerted efforts are required to provide quality education. In addition, many of the small-to-medium-sized enterprises that are members of the CIF, require greater access to finance, training, support with in respect of marketing and to be geared to secure contracts in the industry.”
“As the employers’ organisation of one of the leading economic sectors the Construction Industries Federation regarded it as prudent to engage its 465 member base, which exists of sole proprietors, partnerships, close corporations or companies operational in the building and construction sector. Enterprises were surveyed in order for the CIF to give feedback on both documents, namely the NEEEF Policy and the NEEEF Bill. This initiative was taken to support the consultation process which was initiated on 5 February 2016 by the Prime Minister, Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. The Prime Minister Office (PMO) had referred stakeholders to the draft bill on the PMO’s website and had requested submissions before 25 February 2016, the date of which now has been extended to 31 March 2016.”
“The Namibian government’s past persistent efforts to reduce poverty amongst its citizens has seemed to have paid off, as the overall poverty rate is said to have reduced in Namibia. Official statistics also show that the poverty rate has dropped from 93.3% in 1993, which was three years after Namibia’s independence, to 28.7% in 2010. However, poverty and the difference between incomes are still high.”